We sucked, we were embarrassed, and we were defeated. For six years, I trained my ass, thinking that the outcome will be worth it. When the time came, I was wrong. I suffered for two years. During training, I questioned my ethics and morals among my teammates. Fights broke out people went through the motions. NO ONE cared. We were all sheepwalking. We were recruited to play and win games, but in reality we just showed up to practice and did what were told to do.
At the time, our leaders were hidden. We were faced with high expectations and delivered nothing. When my freshman year ended, we were given a t-shirt at the alumni game and pity “golf claps” from the alumni. The next season was a repeat.
That cleared the air for us, but we were still faced with a challenge. In order for our team to get on the same page we all needed to have a share interest. Yes, you can say that we were all here to play soccer, but that wasn’t good enough. Each person had different views and ideas of how we should play and that was a problem. There was no chemistry. So what did we do? Challenged our ideals. Challenging the status quo allowed everyone to rethink his ideals. That was the hardest thing to do. Seth Godin argues, “The easiest thing is to react. The second easiest thing is to respond. But the hardest things is to initiate.” Step one was crossed off.
Now we needed to change the culture. Our past culture was destroyed by selfishness, which led to a losing streak, then partying on weekends, and the cycle continued to repeat itself. In order for our team to get back on a high stature, we had to be passionate for what we stood for. We had to come to practice with a mindset that we WANT to be here and are not FORCED to be here.
“The real power of [a team] has nothing to do with the (external factors) and everything to do with the people. You don’t need a (object) to lead… you only need the desire to make something happen.” And we had that desire. It came from a shared experience.
We suffered through workouts everyday for 15 weeks. It was the most effective thing for our team because we connected. When you suffer for that long with everyone then it clicks in your head that we need to get on board. That suffering turned into a desire. A desire only a few people can understand. A selective group. Our group, our team.
Godin states, “One of the most powerful of our survival mechanisms is to be part of a tribe, to contribute to (and take from) a group like-minded people.” Once you have a group of individuals that connect, you need to stay committed. Continue to believe in it. Our team believed in the workouts. We believed it will pay off, but there were no grantees. We believed in it because we had faith.
Four months later, my junior season started. We had a winning record; we made the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament, and made the second round of the NCAA Tournament. For our team, that was a step closer to success. A team could be called many things. I never considered it as a tribe, until I understood it’s meaning. People who want success can only get it through shared interests. If no one else cares, how do you plan to exist? Someone else needs to have that shared interest in order for you to make something out of whatever it is.
“A movement is thrilling. It’s the work of many people, all connected, all seeking something better.”
Big thank you to Seth Godin and his work. Tribes has inspired millions of people to lead and be part of something great.